This session at the Clinton Global Initiative combined the President of Rwanda, the Prime Minister of Norway and a US Envoy to Sudan, discussing what is it that governments and civil society can do to avoid genocide.
Prime minister of Norway, Kjell Bondevik, explains that Norway has decided to engage itself in conflict prevention. Norway´s interventions seem to be to war what hygene is to medicine. Bondevik believes in preventive intervention, in intervention before genocide, and so,the Norwegian government spends significant financial and human resources in this area. Norway stands for peace he says, witness Oslo. Charlene Hunter Gaul, the journalist, asks a question that shows to me that she knows little about Norway. She says, “But how do you answer people who tell you that you have problems at home and what are you doing playing peace maker around the world?” From what I know about Norway, an extremely wealthy country thanks to energy supplies where people work relatively little and are protected from craddle to death, I can very well imagine that the PM would be pretty bored at home and look for trouble to solve overseas.
Second to speak is president Paul Kagame. I know I am bringing the child out in me when I say this, but as Kagame means `shit on me´ in Spanish I do have a hard time overcoming his name. Moreover, he is the President of Rwanda – home of the biggest genocide of the last decades. One of the saddest and poorest countries in the world.
Roger Winter spoke about Sudan. Roger says that in Sudan the desert is moving south and that the genocide that is now taking place there is coming as a result of lack of resources. Roger says that Sudan has its version of the Ku Klux Klan, a group of fanatic racists that are in charge of genocide over there. The analogy surprises me and seems inappropriate. Ku Kux Klan to me stands for frequent intimidation, occasional murder. Rwanda and Sudan to me stand for machetes chopping children up. Witness Hotel Rwanda. Roger´s look also surprises me. He has very long hair, something very unusual in a Bush Administration official. Not that I don´t think he looks much better than Ashcroft! Hundreds of thousands of women in Sudan are being gang raped by the Jonjui (sorry, don´t know the spelling). Roger says that genocide is not over, it is still going on. Again he uses a weird example saying that women face a Sophie´s choice of either keeping themselves alive in the safety of camps and see their children die or going out to forage food for them and then being gang raped. This is not what I recall Sophie´s choice was. Nevertheless, it is still a horrible choice. Roger explained the Never Again Campaign, reminiscent of the Nunca Mas of Argentina. He mentioned that Pierre Omidyar and others are personally helping. Pierre Omidyar is using his own funds to send journalists to film the genocide to create awareness in America and Europe.
President Kagame is asked if fighting poverty successfully would have prevented the Tutsi and Hutu genocide. I am glad that he answers that it would not have. I agree with that. Poverty does not lead to genocide. Genocide is in my view a quasi genetic desease that humans have of dividing neighbors in members of their tribe and non members of their tribe, and hatred of non members seems to be a frequent human disease. The more I listen to Kagame the more I like him. He seems to be prudent, reasonable. He says that education can help a great deal in preventing genocide. I very much agree with that. Moreover, Paul Kagame is making a lot of emphasis in new technologies. I couldn´t agree more with that. Another element dealing to genocide is lack of information or information coming from only one source, as you can see in Hotel Rwanda. While the internet can breed fanatics, it is less likely to do so than systems that have a monopoly supply of hatred indoctrination as the Madras educational system of the Wahabis for example.
In general, as I listen to what these actors have to say, I wonder why is it that after not caring about Africa for so long, it is now so relevant to the United States. I find it interesting also that the champions of Africa, people like Roger Winter, are not black. Israel is brought into the radar of Americans by American Jews. Africa is not brought into American media through African Americans. It is paradoxical to me that not a single African American has spoken for Africa in the panels here.
The session closed with an important question. Why is it that people in the United States should care about genocide in Africa? Roger replies by saying that areas of conflict can eventually spread to the United States as it was the case of Al Qaeda. But lastly he says what I think is key. We care because we have a broader sense of humanity. That is how I feel.
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